WINNIPEG — A judge has determined that a woman secretly delivered six babies at or near full term and stashed their remains in a U-Haul storage locker.
Provincial court Judge Murray Thompson convicted Andrea Giesbrecht on six counts of concealing the body of a dead child. Each carries a maximum two years in jail.
He said the infants were likely to have been born alive but, because they were badly decomposed, medical experts could not determine how they died.
"All of her actions lead to one conclusion: that Giesbrecht was aware that these children were likely to have been born alive and she wished to conceal the fact of their birth,'' Thompson said Monday in his decision, which was live-streamed from the Winnipeg courthouse by the media.
Giesbrecht's lawyer Greg Brodsky speaks to media outside the Law Courts in Winnipeg on April 24, 2015. (Photo: Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press)
"The evidence leaves no doubt that she concealed her pregnancies and the resulting delivery of each of the six children.''
The judge allowed Giesbrecht to remain free on bail. A sentencing hearing is to be set later. Each count carries a maximum two years in jail.
"She's happy that the case is finally coming to a conclusion,'' defence lawyer Greg Brodsky said outside court. "She's not happy with the ... conclusion but she's happy that it's coming to an end.''
He said he will wait until sentencing to decide whether to appeal.
"The evidence leaves no doubt that she concealed her pregnancies and the resulting delivery of each of the six children."
Giesbrecht was arrested in October 2014 after she defaulted on paying rent for the storage locker. Staff, who were to auction off its contents, opened a plastic bin and noticed a strange smell.
Police were called and discovered the remains in garbage bags and other containers inside the locker.
Giesbrecht was not charged with killing the children.
One baby had been put in a pail under concrete, while another was covered in a white powder that slowed decomposition but dried out the body and left it rock hard.
A third infant was little more than a pile of bones wrapped in a towel.
No medical record of pregnancies
The judge said police, who could not compel Giesbrecht to supply a DNA sample, retrieved a sanitary napkin from her bedroom with a search warrant. Tests showed she was the mother of the six children — five boys and one girl. Witnesses testified she hadn't told anyone about the pregnancies.
Thompson noted that Giesbrecht knew about being pregnant and delivering babies. She had her two children in hospital. She also had 10 legal abortions.
The judge noted there were no medical records of the pregnancies relating to the charges.
"It is clear not only that Giesbrecht concealed each of these six pregnancies, but her actions of secrecy and concealment after each child was delivered are only consistent with an intention to conceal the fact that she was delivered of each of these children.''
The Crown had argued that towels, blankets and other household items stored with the remains showed that the infants were probably born at Giesbrecht's home before they were taken to the storage locker.
"Her actions of secrecy and concealment after each child was delivered are only consistent with an intention to conceal the fact that she was delivered of each of these children.''
The defence didn't call any witnesses during the trial. Brodsky argued that his client kept the bodies in the storage locker to save them, not dispose of them.
The judge didn't believe that.
Thompson said by not paying the locker rent, Giesbrecht did the opposite of saving the bodies. He added that she rented the locker with her maiden name and with an incorrect address.
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